The movies of Walerian Borowczyk that have been cut or banned in Australia.
aka La Bête
Directed by Walerian Borowczyk / 1975 / France / IMDb
In November 1976, a 2815.00-meter (102:37) print of THE BEAST was banned because of ‘indecency’.
The Films Board of Review upheld the decision in July 1977.
A censored 2701.70-meter (98:29) was eventually passed with an R-rating in October 1977.
January 1978– Cinema Papers No. 15
To meet ‘community standards’, 4.2min had to be deleted. These cuts represent most of the sequence where…passionate lovemaking exhausts the beast who collapses to the ground and expires. As a result, the tale has been robbed of its irony.
In all cases, Cinecenta Films were the applicant. It was submitted under the original title of LA BÊTE.
Unreleased video No. 1
In November 1981, a 94-minute tape was Refused Registration. The reason given for the ban was sex, which was described as:
The applicant, Star Video, submitted it as LA BÊTE.
Unreleased video No. 2
In September 1983, Publishing and Broadcasting Video had an 89-minute ‘reconstructed version’ of THE BEAST passed with the Special Condition ‘that this film/tape will not be exhibited in any State in contravention of State’s law relating to the exhibition of films’.
Unreleased video No. 3
In February 1984, had a 92-minute tape of LA BÊTE passed with an X-rating. It was awarded for sex, which was described as:
The X was introduced in February 1984, and until mid-1985, it was considered not only for hardcore films but also for material that was too extreme to receive an R-rating. During this time, titles such as CALIGULA (1979) were passed uncut. The guidelines were soon tightened and violent content removed until it became the exclusive home of hardcore pornography.
In 2002, an uncut print was screened at the third Melbourne Underground Film Festival.
In later years, attempted MUFF screenings of controversial titles would run into problems with the OFLC. However, in this case, THE BEAST appears to have gone ahead with no issues.
In April 2007, Umbrella Entertainment had a DVD of THE BEAST passed with an R18+ (High level sexual themes and Sex scenes) rating.
It was released in February 2008 with a cover that promoted it as being ‘Banned for 30 Years!’.
They reissued it on DVD in December 2016 as part of their World Classics series.
A Blu-ray version was released by Umbrella in November 2021. It was Volume 13 in their Beyond Genres series.
The problem footage
Umbrella’s DVD runs 94:10 and is the shorter ‘Directors Cut’. Melon Farmer’s has a description of what is missing.
Interestingly, the so-called ‘Complete version’, released in 2004 by American label Cult Epics, runs only 98:00 (NTSC). This compares with 102:53 for the print submitted to the Censorship Board in 1976.
The four-minutes of cuts that were made to secure an R-rating would have come from the three-part dream sequence where the Beast chases Lucy (Lisbeth Hummel).
Part 1 – 63:30 to 67:40 – The chase begins and concludes with her climbing a tree and the Beast licking her vagina. When she falls from the tree, he attempts to rape her.
Part 2 – 72:00 to 76:00 – Begins with Lucy masturbating with a rose. This scene is quite explicit, with her vagina exposed to the camera, so must have been cut for an R-rating. The dream sequence then continues with her being raped by the Beast.
Part 3 – 79:30 to 81:15 – Lucy masturbating the Beast and licking his penis until he dies of pleasure. This scene was the most heavily cut for an R-rating. However, it only runs under two minutes, which confirms other footage was removed.
The film contains other sex scenes, but none is as explicit as the chase, rape and eventual death of the Beast.
Behind Convent Walls
aka Within a Cloister
Directed by Walerian Borowczyk / 1978 / Italy / IMDb
In June 1979, a 2577.30-meter (93:57) print of BEHIND CONVENT WALLS was censored by 15.3-meters (00:33) for an R-rating.
The applicant, Superstar International submitted it under the title WITHIN A CLOISTER.
In the early 1980s, K&C Video issued BEHIND CONVENT WALLS on tape.
The 89:14 (PAL) running time indicates it was a censored version.
In January 1986, Palace Home Video received an X-rating for a 78-minute tape. It is unclear why they submitted a version that was so short.
They do not appear to have issued this tape, even though it could have been accommodated on their Palace X Video label. This may have been because, by 1986, significant restrictions had been put on the rental of X-rated titles.